The idea of a digital currency is not a new thing. Indeed, the BitCoin concept, although ultimately a flop, brought much attention to the whole idea.
Now, Canada is bringing in its own digital currency for general use. In early April 2012 the Canadian government announced they would be withdrawing the penny from circulation. A few days later, they announced the MintChip, their digital currency, intended for small transactions.
Where Can You Get MintChips?
Unfortunately, you can’t! You will have to wait a while to get your digital hands on the MintChip. The announcement of MintChip was not an announcement of a finalized, ready-to-go currency. Instead, it is still being developed.
There is currently a contest, the MintChip challenge, that is intended to get developers working on applications for the currency. There are 8 prizes available, but each prize is not in MintChips, but rather in solid gold, altogether worth $50,000.
In total, 500 spots were up for grabs in the competition and all were filled in just a few days. Judging criteria include the quality, implementation and potential impact of the ideas, and the winners will be announced on the 24th of September.
What will MintChips be used For?
The intention of the MintChip is to allow people to spend small amounts of money digitally, without their personal information being attached to it — digital cash. USB keys, smartphones, tablets, computers and clouds will all be able to be used to make the payments.
It’s thought that it will be used for things like buying online newspapers, iTunes songs and eBooks. With a $90 billion market for cash transactions of under $20, it’s potentially a very big market. If it works out, it could also be a big boon for online marketplaces and vendors, allowing them to gain access to easier methods of taking payment from their customers.
The knock-on effect could be huge, as small businesses can use their increased revenues to pay for more SEO services and higher web design pricing.
The launch of MintChip has not been without controversy and criticism. There is concern the Canadian Mint could force users to accept new tracking features once the currency has become established, removing the anonymity that is one of its attractions.
Then, of course, there is the worry the methods of payment could be hacked. No matter how iron-clad, hackers are out there working hard, and often successful, at breaking secure codes.
While it remains to be seen if MintChip will take off, the fact that the Canadian Mint is attempting to kick-off a digital currency is certainly interesting. The free-market competition-based element of developing applications for its use could well develop both intriguing and useful applications and a viral buzz around its use.Guest post by Michelle. With interests in technology, she enjoys blogging about everything from SEO services to online shopping.